Leaf Blight Tolerant Taro Variety Project
More Information on Taro Production
Palauan Taro Information
For Project Members:
Blight Tolerant Taro Varieties: Promoting Grower Adoption
and Food Processor Acceptance
Project Goal: Demonstrate to growers that phytophthora leaf blight can be managed using disease tolerant or resistant cultivars.
Phytophthora leaf blight is a major production bottleneck for commercial luau (taro leaf) and corm producers. It is caused by the fungus Phytophthora colocasiae. In luau production, the disease represents direct crop damage because the fungus causes the destruction of the taro leaf, the part of the plant which is marketed and consumed. In addition, the destruction of plant foliage results in decreased photosynthesis which causes further yield reduction.
Disease tolerant Palauan taro cultivars have been identified and released for advanced field testing by Dr. Eduardo Trujillo. Data from unreplicated field tests on Oahu showed that taro leaf yield losses due to the disease could be as high as 95% in the standard Bunlong variety. Whereas, marketable yields were 1.4 to 9 fold in disease tolerant varieties under the same conditions. These field trials indicate that the disease tolerant taro varieties hold tremendous promise in replacing the standard 'Bunlong' variety for luau production. However, limited access to planting material by commercial growers and not knowing whether consumers and commercial processors will accept the promising varieties are current barriers to adoption. Moreover, little is known about the suitability of the tolerant cultivars for leaf, table taro, or poi production. Because of this, extension must collaborate with stakeholders to perform advanced field tests to identify cultivars that are suited for local growing conditions and market requirements.
1. Phytophthora leaf blight resistant cultivars will allow continued taro production on farmlands infested by Phytophthora colocasiae and provide increased net returns and yields to these growers. Field demonstration plots will be established in selected counties and taro growers will be educated about disease management and the significance of disease tolerant/ resistant cultivars.
2. A significant number of commercial growers will adopt suitable leaf blight resistant cultivars as a means for managing phytophthora leaf blight of taro.
3. Acceptance of new cultivars will be embraced by taro consumers and food processors. Evaluation of leaf and corm samples will be performed by commercial processors. The acceptability of these varieties will be measured according to their potential for consumption as luau, poi, and table taro.